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SENSE. newsletter #01


Dear Readers,

In the quest to understand the intricate connection between natural sciences and education, we embark on a journey that challenges preconceived notions and confronts the complexities within this relationship. What role do the natural sciences play in education, and how can we bridge the gap between scientific phenomena and the shaping of individuals’ relationships with the world around them?

At first glance, the answer seems straightforward. Scientific phenomena are inherent to education, forming an integral part of our understanding of the world. Yet, as we take a closer look, we unravel a narrative marked by disturbances, marginalization, and normative stereotypes that have long plagued the relationship between science and education.

This inaugural newsletter introduces the SENSE. roadmap project, a groundbreaking initiative poised to address the challenges at the heart of the dysfunctional relationship between science and education. As we delve into the discourse shaped by Dietrich Schwanitz and others, we are compelled to question the prevailing marginalization of scientific content in education.

Notably, our exploration extends to the intriguing world of children, who exhibit an innate fascination with natural phenomena. However, as international studies reveal, this interest tends to wane with age, particularly among girls and young women, leading to a critical break that demands our attention.

The SENSE. roadmap boldly identifies two key issues as starting points: the primacy of the model over the phenomenon, and the need to place the learner at the center. By emphasizing learners’ needs and local conditions, SENSE. seeks to reintegrate the individual and sensory perception into science learning, challenging the distorted teaching logic that often hinders genuine engagement.

SENSE. The New European Roadmap to STEAM Education envisions an art-integrative science education grounded in a sensory and participatory approach. It’s not just a roadmap; it’s a guide to creative and holistic STEAM learning, transcending traditional boundaries and reaching learners and educators wherever they may be – be it in a school, a museum, the woods, or on a construction site.

The SENSE.STEAM approach goes beyond integration, weaving sustainability, digitization, participation, social inclusion, creativity, and inquiry into the very fabric of STEAM education. This ambitious endeavor is not just about creating a roadmap; it’s about building awareness, inspiring action, and advocating for the transformative power of STEAM education.

Join us on this transformative journey as we navigate the intersections of science, education, and creativity. This newsletter serves as a precursor to the dynamic strides we aim to make collectively, shaping a future where STEAM education is inclusive, engaging, and transformative.

Happy reading!

Lydia Schulze Heuling

Professor and coordinator of the SENSE. project, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

SENSE Methodology

The SENSE Methodology was developed in 2023 along with 28 significant practice examples from secondary and tertiary education, ranging from citizen practice and community art interventions. Ready for a transformative educational journey? SENSE.STEAM unlocks a comprehensive learning experience for individuals and society.

Read more

Our living document, the SENSE. Manifesto, captures our values and guidelines. It provides a fresh perspective to assess the array of STEAM practices gathered by the consortium. The Manifesto is more than just a document; it’s a tool for reflection and the foundation upon which subsequent components, such as activities, workshops, and project tools, will be envisioned.

Launching 13 STEAM LABs 

A network of 13 STEAM LABs across 12 European countries bring the SENSE.STEAM approach to life, testing, adapting and further developing the methodology with groups of participants in local contexts. They engage young people, multiple stakeholders, and seek to include vulnerable groups in a meaningful way through citizen science and art invention. The labs have been launched in autumn 2023 and involved festivals, teacher professional development workshops, round tables, hybrid and digital events hosted in museums and technology centers, and many more. Our LAB activities address the needs of the students, ranging from simulation games, building fairy houses, ‘shadow hunting’, science experiments and many more.

A STEAM festival in Lab Monza, Creda

The LAB run by Monza Creda, Italy integrates art, sustainability, and nature. On the day of the launch event, over 400 participants were immersed in multi-sensory experiences, exploring both indoor and outdoor spaces adorned with captivating installations.  

Participants at the launch event had many different ways to engage with SENSE. They could simply obtain information on the project or actively engage exploring the space around and interacting with people, outdoor and indoor spaces, art installations and performances that challenged and highlighted their senses and perceptions.  

Monza’s CREDA Lab stands as the nexus where creativity, science, and community converge towards an inspiring future!  

Find out more

Lab on the Future of Education in Norway

Another dynamic STEAM Lab launch event by HVL, Trelleborg and Vilvite highlighted the intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, demonstrating their significance in addressing contemporary challenges through innovative activities.

The event consisted of several components: At HVL, hosted an engaging panel debate led by Christian Lomsdal. Panelists, including experts from SENSE, Trelleborg Group, and accomplished artists, delved into pivotal questions concerning the role of art and science, the evolution of future classrooms, and the essential competencies sought by prospective employers to address tomorrow’s challenges. 

Find out more

Girls Lab in Akhmeta, Georgia

WECF Georgia launched a lab in cooperation with the Akhmeta Innovation Center that works with the Tech Girls Club focusing on health, ecology, environment, and digitalization. Students, teachers, youth workers, members of the local municipality, and representatives of art schools and museums attended the launch event.  

During the STEAM LAB opening event, participants participated in a simulation game to help them see the perspectives of different community members, especially youth, and recognize the importance of co-creation and community building. With just a contour of the borders, the participants were given a blank piece of the map and asked to design a new map. Using the space around them, they designed a new municipality map considering the needs and challenges of community members.

In Georgia, Akhmeta Lab works to solve existing community problems and make the community a better place to live by bringing innovation solutions. 

Find out more

Space approach as cross cutting issue

The SENSE.STEAM methodology sees space not only as a geometric condition but a complex arrangement of multiple elements that stimulate the human sensorium. While everyone agrees on this, reality can be messier than expected and one of the key lessons learned is that messiness needs to be understood and not avoided. 

As a working hypothesis, we looked at ways on including the built environment into a STEAM pedagogy: in the form of setting conditions to achieve a defined outcome and providing tools for spatial agency, where space becomes a tool in the hand of students. While the first approach often ends up in simplistic behaviourism the second approach often overestimates the skills of students. Both ways of seeing space are relevant and need to be clearly understood. 

For SENSE.STEAM, Hawkins\Brown tried the same sequence under different spatial conditions, keenly observing what students made of it. 

The base idea of the sequence “Light and Shadow hunting” was to give students some material and to study their environment and investigate the different types of shadows and reflections. The hypothesis was that a large space would stipulate a more explorative behaviour looking at the impact of larger geometries of the space and their interaction with light. 

As with all Hypothesis we were wrong and right at the same time. In one Instance the practice tool place in a large hall. While some students observed the effects of large volume when the sun started shining others created mini-labs to be able to control their experiments – unconsciously copying scientist that try to control the environment as much as possible. What we could observe how space is always part of an open dialogue – in our case offering conditions which can be accepted or rejected in an act of spatial agency – or shall we say defiance?

At the end of the day STEAM.SENSE is not about finding cooking recipes how to design educational spaces that warrant outcomes but helping all actors involved on their way into spatial literacy. This means to reflect space and understand complexity. 

And understanding complexity without predefined answer is at the heart of STEAM.SENSE.

Read more about the event
Read the scoping report on space

Social Inclusion approach as cross cutting issue

Inclusion is at the forefront of our SENSE.STEAM approach. We actively weave inclusion into our processes, practices, and policy recommendations. It is a multidimensional concept that refers to the fair and equitable engagement of all individuals within society, regardless of their background, abilities, or identities. In a wider scale, social inclusion relates to complex topics such as power relations, social justice, non-hierarchical decision-making, identity, public visibility, stigmatization and accessibility.  

In establishing a socially cohesive SENSE.STEAM, a student-centered approach is crucial – where participants are not passive recipients of knowledge but are active contributors to the learning process. This can be shaped in several ways; through project-based learning, where students are engaged in hands-on projects to solve complex problems. In this, collaborative problem-solving can be enhanced through an interdisciplinary perspective and citizen science practices.

Diverse individual and collective backgrounds can become contributors to knowledge creation in the form of co-creative set of activities in school contexts. In its more co-creative vision, participatory practices involve engaging individuals and communities directly in decision-making, problem-solving, and development processes that affect their lives and those around them. 

Citizen science increasingly embraces the principles of inclusion, collaboration, and empowerment, and can shift the linear mold of conventional approaches to education, research, and involvement as it focuses on a process of sequential reflection and action, which is designed and executed alongside the local community, rather than “on” or “for” them. Citizen science emphasizes active involvement, respect for diverse voices, and collaborative efforts to create inclusive spaces for co-creation, knowledge exchange and knowledge coproduction. 

Read more about Social Inclusion as a pillar of SENSE

Read the Scoping Report on Social Inclusion and Gender in STEAM

Integrating Gender in the SENSE Project  

Gender is another key component of the SENSE project. Women are still underrepresented in STEM globally, especially in high-paid jobs even though the number of women in STEM education is steadily increasing. Therefore, it is essential to recognize gaps in women’s representation in STEM fields to promote STEAM practices in education. The SENSE-STEAM project aims to raise awareness of the issues girls and women face and to find innovative solutions.  

Key stakeholders such as students, teachers, parents, educators, policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, and the media are invited to the discussions to show them the importance of addressing the gender gap in STEM fields and promoting a stigma-free environment where girls and boys have equal opportunities to engage with science.   

More about Women in STEM

Start of the Roadmap

As part of the project’s meeting in Tbilisi in October 2023 we came together for a visionary workshop for the SENSE.STEAM roadmap. Eager to explore methods beyond text on paper (and in the cloud), we took the roadmap metaphor and worked to create real physical models of our first interpretation of what the roadmap might be and how it could be shared in the digital hub. Using the book Anyone Can Design as a guide, we moved from individually setting values and expectations, to small group discussion and finally group work using the materials around us.  

Afterward it became clear that some clear themes are already in place. Our vision for the roadmap encourages a personalised approach to education that encourages collaboration and shared sensory experiences. To do this, we reject the notion of hard right or wrong answers, or one solution. The workshop also showed a strong sense of fun and whimsical in the group – illuminating the creative spirit in us all.  

Join us in our journey on Future Making Education!

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